Doctors and personal trainers have long encouraged the combination of intense cardio and a weight-lifting regimen to create the best physique, but it turns out that your brain can benefit from pumping a bit of iron as well.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently demonstrated that lifting weights for as little as 20 minutes could improve your memory. The team had study participants look at images before completing a resistance task and then quizzed them on the images afterward.
"Acute aerobic exercise can be beneficial to episodic memory. This benefit may occur because exercise produces a similar physiological response as physical stressors," the study authors wrote of their findings published in the journal Acta Psychologica.
Here are more specifics from the study's abstract:
The group that performed the exercise, the active group, had higher overall recognition accuracy than the group that did not exercise, the passive group. We found a robust effect of valence across groups, with better performance on emotional items as compared to neutral items and no difference between positive and negative items. This effect changed based on the physiological response to the exercise. Within the active group, participants with a high physiological response to the exercise were impaired for neutral items as compared to participants with a low physiological response to the exercise. Our results demonstrate that a single bout of resistance exercise performed during consolidation can enhance episodic memory and that the effect of valence on memory depends on the physiological response to the exercise.
The researchers also found that the effects of the resistance training helped improve episodic memory for up to 48 hours.
Watch Georgia Tech's brief video about the study findings:
While this study used weights to achieve resistance, Georgia Tech News reported that project lead Lisa Weinberg, a graduate student at the university, said using body weight in squats or lunges could produce the same result.
With these basic findings, Minoru Shinohara, associate professor of physiology, told Georgia Tech that researchers are going to see if resistance training can help improve other types of memory, if there is a specific type of weight training that produces the best result and how much weight training needs to be done in different populations to product the optimal result.
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